COLORBEARER OF ATHENS, GEORGIA LOCALLY OWNED SINCE 1987

In the Loop

  • Vernon Payne Resigns from Clarke County BOE

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    Photo Credit: Clarke County School District

    Payne.

    Vernon Payne has stepped down from the Clarke County school board for health reasons after 40 years of service.

    Payne submitted his resignation to Superintendent Demond Means and Gov. Nathan Deal in a letter dated Dec. 28, but it was not made public until last Friday.

    Payne has not attended a meeting since March, according to meeting minutes. The school district had no procedure to replace him unless he resigned, causing some concern among his District 2 constituents that they would go unrepresented until his term expires at the end of 2020. 

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  • Meeting Between Oconee Commissioners and Legislators Focuses on Kemp

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    From left, state Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens), Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville) and Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens).

    Brian Kemp, the governor-elect of Georgia, was not invited to and did not attend the pre-legislative session held late last year by the Oconee County Board of Commissioners for the county’s delegation to the Georgia General Assembly.

    But Kemp’s presence at the gathering was strong nonetheless.

    In closing the session, Republican Sen. Bill Cowsert said “the most interesting thing about this session” is going to be seeing how the personalities of Kemp, newly elected Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan,and House Speaker David Ralston “mesh” and how their goals “match.”

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  • Athens-Clarke County Names New Police Chief

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    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Athens-Clarke County

    Cleveland Spruill.

    Athens-Clarke County Manager Blaine Williams has appointed a North Carolina police chief to take over the ACC police department effective Feb. 4.

    Cleveland Lee Spruill Sr. has been the police chief in Huntersville, NC, since May 2014. The Huntersville police department has 102 sworn officers, 111 total employees and a $12.8 million annual budget.

    Although Huntersville, population 60,000, is half the size of Athens, Spruill has experience running a larger department. Prior to becoming the police chief in Huntersville, Spruill was the executive chief deputy in Alexandria, VA, which had 320 sworn officers, 105 civilian employees, a $57 million budget and served a population of 150,000.

    Williams said in a news release that Spruill stood out among many qualified applicants as the best person to uphold ACC's philosophy of community-oriented policing and serve as an ambassador to the community.

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  • Gov. Nathan Deal Will Teach at UGA

     

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    Photo Credit: Office of the Governor

    Gov. Nathan Deal, whose second term ends on Monday, will soon be teaching at the University of Georgia.

    The University System of Georgia Board of Regents voted today to appoint Deal as a Regents Professor. His appointment will be effective for at least three years beginning March 1.

    Deal plans to occasionally lecture undergraduates with interests in political science and law at UGA and other institutions in the University System of Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitutionreported. He's also starting a consulting firm with his longtime chief of staff, Chris Riley.

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  • Photos: Athens Mayor and Commission Swearing-In Ceremony

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    New Mayor Kelly Girtz and four new Athens-Clarke County commissioners, along with re-elected incumbent Melissa Link, were sworn in Tuesday at City Hall, ushering in a new era of progressive politics for Athens.

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  • Mayor Kelly Girtz, New Commissioners Will Be Sworn in Today

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    Girtz.

    Athens-Clarke County's new Politburo Mayor and Commission will be sworn during a 5:30 p.m. ceremony today at City Hall.

    After winning a three-way race in May, Commissioner Kelly Girtz will officially take over for Mayor Nancy Denson, who was limited to two terms. Look for a Q&A with Girtz in Wednesday's edition of Flagpole.

    Taking Girtz's District 9 seat will be longtime school board member and community organizer Ovita Thornton. Other new commissioners include:

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  • PETA Wants Georgia to Get Rid of Uga

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    Photo Credit: John Kelley/UGA Athletics

    Uga X.

    This is about as likely to happen as Kirby Smart leaving to coach Georgia Tech, but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is asking the University of Georgia to stop using a real-life English bulldog as its mascot.

    After Uga X's encounter with Bevo, the Texas longhorn, at Tuesday's Sugar Bowl, PETA sent letters to both schools asking them to stop using live animals as mascots.

    "It's indefensible to subject animals to the stress of being packed up, carted from state to state, and paraded in front of a stadium full of screaming fans," PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange said in a statement. "It's no surprise that a skittish steer would react to a perceived threat by charging, and PETA is calling on the University of Texas and the University of Georgia to learn from this dangerous incident, retire their live-animal mascots, and stick to the talented costumed mascots who can lead cheers, react to the crowd, and pump up the team."

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  • What Do You Want to See in Athens' Police Chief?

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    Athens-Clarke County is accepting public input on what residents want to see from a new ACCPD chief.

    "As we consider Police Chief candidates throughout our search process," Williams said in a news release, "it is important to me that any member of the community has an opportunity to express their thoughts as to what are important characteristics, qualities, and priorities of the next Police Chief that we should consider during our reviews."

    Residents can fill out an online form, pick up a print form at the manager's office in Room 301 of City Hall or at the police station on Lexington Road, or leave a verbal comment by calling 706-224-3202.

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